Addi Strong Night
What: Lakeview Academy will celebrate Addi Bales and her battle with cancer. Proceeds from tickets and baked goods will go to Addi’s fund
When: JV game begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Lakeview Academy, 796 Lakeview Drive, Gainesville
How to help: www.addistrong.com
Cancer is a tough opponent.
Addi Bales, kindergartner at Lakeview Academy, knows this all too well.
Bales was diagnosed with osteosarcoma late last year. After one round of chemotherapy, a surgery removing a large portion of her femur and another round of chemotherapy beginning this week, her school is doing something to show its support.
Lakeview will host Addi Strong Night beginning at 5:30 p.m. this Friday during the junior varsity and girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball games.
“All of the funds that night will go to her,” said John Simpson, Lakeview dean of students. “Concession sales and the gate and stuff like that will go to her fund.”
Not only will Lakeview students, faculty and fans be supporting Addi, but the opponents from Towns County will also show their support.
“It’s going to be all about Addi that night,” Simpson said. “Towns County has been nice enough to buy the Addi Bales shirt, which they will wear as a warm-up top. The county has been together with us on this, and it’s just wonderful.”
Andy and Holly Bales, Addi’s parents, said they are overwhelmed by the support from Lakeview and the community since their daughter’s diagnosis. Holly Bales, an assistant basketball coach at the school, said she was grateful to everyone who has a hand in planning Friday’s event.
“The love that we have felt from the school, the community, our family, friends, everybody — it’s more than we could ask for,” Holly Bales said. “There are so many people praying for her who don’t even know her.”
Just after Addi started kindergarten in the fall, her parents started noticing she was fatigued throughout the day and had a slight limp.
“There were never sharp pains or anything like that, but it was just kind of a nagging thing,” Holly Bales said. “And she started getting restless at night, so we took her for an X-ray after about three weeks of those symptoms.”
The X-ray showed Addi had a large tumor in her femur, and she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Holly Bales said the cancer is rare in children Addi’s age and is more typically found in fast-growing adolescents.
Addi’s doctors recommended she receive an immediate 10-week chemotherapy treatment at Scottish Rite in Atlanta. Then, Jan. 5, she underwent surgery at Vanderbilt to remove the large tumor.
“They ended up taking out seven inches of her femur,” Holly Bales said. “You can pretty much imagine how much that is on a 6-year-old. It was pretty much her entire femur, but we were just blessed that she was able to keep her leg.”
Addi was given time to recover from the surgery before beginning her last round of treatment: 18 weeks of chemotherapy that began this week.
Holly Bales said this round of chemo is called “special ops,” because its purpose is to go in and kill any last traces of the cancer in Addi’s body.
Holly Bales said she is optimistic about the treatment. When doctors tested the tumor after it had been removed, it showed 99 percent necrosis, meaning the first round of chemotherapy had been 99 percent effective.
“We’re looking at hopefully finishing treatment this summer,” Holly Bales said. “When everyone’s celebrating school being out, we’ll be celebrating being cancer-free.”
The public can celebrate Addi and her strength sooner than that.
Simpson encouraged the public to come to the game Friday. The “Bitty Ball” and “Mighty Mites” basketball teams will also play at halftime of the girls’ and boys’ games. These are the Lakeview teams Addi would play on, Simpson said, if she were healthy.
“It’s going to be a regular basketball game; just like anything, both teams are going to want to win,” Simpson said. “But we all are going to do a little extra to honor Addi that night.”
Holly Bales said she and her husband are going to try to bring Addi for a little while, though her chemotherapy treatment makes her ill and fatigued. She wants Addi to be able to see all the people there to support her.
“She’s just a precious little girl that I think has touched so many lives already,” Holly Bales said. “She’s going to do great things one day.”